gravel riding

With ‘Skull’ event, Burns stakes a claim as America’s best gravel riding destination

by on June 18th, 2018 at 4:22 pm

Justin Pitts called drove nine hours from San Francisco to Burns to ride in the Skull 120. Here he is on an unmarked road north of Dry Gulch Reservoir.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

The town of Burns in Harney County is one of the most remote places in Oregon. At over 10,000 square miles, you could fit 21 Multnomah Counties inside of it. And with a land mass about the size of Massachusetts, Harney County has less than one resident per square mile.

But along with junipers, pines and pristine meadows, the county boasts an abundance of unpaved roads. 20,000 miles of them, locals say. And it’s a resource they’re ready to tap.
[Read more…]

Love riding gravel? Meet Washington County’s unpaved road “Kahuna” Dan Morgan

by on March 2nd, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Dan Morgan on Smoke Ranch Road, one of his favorites. After riding roads like these for years, he’s now helping make sure they stay unpaved.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s fitting that I first met Dan Morgan on a gravel road.

The 66 year-old former dairy farmer, IBM retiree and Beaverton resident has been riding unpaved country roads his whole life. Now that the activity has become one of the biggest trends in cycling, he’s become an ambassador of sorts. He’s also working to prevent the county from paving over this newly discovered paradise.
[Read more…]

Finding heaven on the Hell of the North Plains

by on January 22nd, 2018 at 4:04 pm

And then there was this bright green meadow on our way up to the top of Wildcat Mountain.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Sometimes all it takes to find a good adventure on two wheels is to just look a little harder.

Many of the best roads on Saturday’s Hell of the North Plains ride were in places I’ve ridden or driven near for many years. But somehow, someway, the routefinding raconteurs at Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) manage to go deeper into (relatively) local backroads than most of us will ever venture on our own.
[Read more…]

Weyerhaeuser enforcing gravel road permits amid confusion over public right-of-way

by on October 15th, 2015 at 10:14 am

The logging roads northwest of Vernonia are spectacular, but not all of them are open to public access.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Several weeks ago a group of bicycle riders ran into a security guard while riding dirt roads outside of Vernonia. The incident shows that Weyerhaeuser Columbia Timberlands is actively enforcing the new permit program they launched back in July. It has also set off an effort by Columbia County Parks to create new signage that clarifies which roads the public is still free to use without a permit.
[Read more…]

McMenamins Grand Lodge as a base camp for biking adventures around Forest Grove

by on May 8th, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Forest Grove - Barney Reservoir loop-1.jpg

Grand Lodge’s main entrance makes for
a classy way to start a ride.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Just a quick trip on the MAX blue line west of Portland (about 25 miles) lies Forest Grove, a small town rich in history that just so happens to make a great launching pad for cycling adventures.

I’m out here thanks to McMenamins Grand Lodge, a hotel and resort looking to establish its bike-friendly credentials. McMenamins invited me here to spend a few nights and ride and photograph local roads and backroads. I eagerly accepted for two simple reasons: I was happy to hear that McMenamins, owners and operators of 56 establishments throughout Oregon and Washington, wanted to be more bike-friendly; and I really like riding bikes — especially in new (to me) places.

McMenamins and Forest Grove are a perfect match. One has a rich history and the other specializes in highlighting it. Forest Grove was incorporated in 1872, making it the first city in Washington County (thanks Wikipedia). It’s nestled at the western-most edge of urban development and there’s no civilization (except farms) between it and the Oregon Coast. [Read more…]

Hey gravel road riders – runners want in on the action too

by on April 9th, 2015 at 9:57 am

Forest Park-6

Leif Erikson road in Forest Park.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Read more…]

The Ride: Unpaved fun on Banks backroads (photo gallery)

by on January 12th, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Banks backroads loop-40

Great roads await in the hills surrounding the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Once you open yourself up to the possibility of riding unpaved roads, a whole new world awaits. That, to me, is one of the most exciting things about the “gravel riding” revolution. It’s like we just scored a bunch of new places to ride and it came without loss of blood or treasure.
[Read more…]

Travel Oregon adds gravel routes to bicycling portal website

by on October 15th, 2014 at 11:23 am

Now you have one less excuse to not explore Oregon’s excellent unpaved roads.

RideOregonRide.com, the awesome resource developed by Oregon’s tourism commission Travel Oregon, now includes a handful of the best gravel rides our state has to offer.
[Read more…]

Putting rides to words: ‘Gravel Poet Society’

by on February 27th, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Gravel riding veteran Dan Morgan lives and breaths backroads bicycling (here a photo of him I snapped while we shared some miles in eastern Oregon last summer). I hope to profile him in more detail here on the Front Page sooner or later.

For now, I want to share some poems written by Dan’s relatives: Brandy and Kevin Carrelli. Brandy is a freelance writer who lives in Oswego, Illinois. After Dan wondered why there aren’t “gravel poets, like the cowboy and fisherman types”, Brandy responded to Dan’s request for some literary flair that captures the allure of gravel riding.

Brandy wrote a poem I thought you might enjoy. Then she asked her husband Kevin to write one and his is great too. We got their permission to publish them here. Check them out:

Behold!
Rocky trails ‘neath my tires
Mountains point as cathedral spires
Riding long into the night
May every man share my plight
Saddle sores and water waning
Straining arms and legs a-paining
But ’tis worth the struggling force
Not the destination…just the course.
— by Brandy Carrelli

Looking to the mountains, so far
I’d have a tough time, in my car
My bike rattles across a rock
My tires slide, my wheels lock
How will I ever get to the other side?
My legs said they can do it
I’m hoping they had not lied
I push forward to the path ahead
“It will be easy”, no one said
— by Kevin Carrelli

Ride: Finding (and grinding) gravel in Salem

by on February 27th, 2014 at 8:26 am

Salem Gravel Grinder

Riders embark on a 50-mile loop of dirt and gravel farm roads west of Salem.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

I still don’t who organized last Sunday’s Salem Gravel Grinder ride; but I think that’s somewhat by design. The ride is part of a growing trend of unsanctioned, unpermitted group rides where the participants expect nothing more than a good route, good company, and a good adventure.

By that measure, Sunday’s ride (also known as “Oregon’s Perry Roubaix”) was a great success.[Read more…]